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Old 31st Jul 2007, 17:04   #21
Kimberley
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Does he actually describe it to him, or say that he wishes he could describe it to him? I agree, that was a bit of a cringe-worthy moment.

Did you find the tears funny? I found them a little... sad. I think he's realising that there is an element of loss in that act of loving her. It goes to Keats again, could her son not be the 'fair youth'?

Quote:
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!


Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
It's interesting to me that this poem is so much about sex that is not had. In the poem, the love forever warm and still to be enjoyed is actually cold and made of clay, the poetic voice evoking an imagined passion.
I'm reading on still more intrigued...

ETA I should have explained more explicitly that I'm making the connection here, in the weird way my mind connects things, between Dr Haggard's disease and the burning forehead of Keats, too.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 17:11   #22
Kimberley
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth View Post
Are tears so uncommon in sex?
With best respects to JS's schoolfriends, I don't think so.

(Though maybe, Beth, we've known the wrong sorts of people).
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 17:37   #23
Beth
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimberley View Post
I agree, that was a bit of a cringe-worthy moment.

Did you find the tears funny? I found them a little... sad. I think he's realising that there is an element of loss in that act of loving her. It goes to Keats again, could her son not be the 'fair youth'?



It's interesting to me that this poem is so much about sex that is not had. In the poem, the love forever warm and still to be enjoyed is actually cold and made of clay, the poetic voice evoking an imagined passion.
I'm reading on still more intrigued...
No cringing here at that descriptive passage. I think it's brave writing that enhances the eros of the story. Kim, I love your introduction of the specific Keats into your analysis. Tears for what cannot be had certainly make sense and Edward knew from the get go what he had chosen.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 17:57   #24
Ang
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Discussion starts 1 August.
You naughty naughty people!!

I hope to finish it this evening so I will be ready for the "start" of the discussion.

Until then... I can't look...
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 19:54   #25
Beth
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

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Originally Posted by Ang View Post
You naughty naughty people!!
Ha! Naanaana boo boo. I'll finish it this evening and want to slow down a bit and not rushsomanythoughts. Ang, have you seen the Patrick McGrath thread as well? It's loaded with lots of comments and I've skimmed it but will take some time to read thoroughly. There are quite a few here who've read Dr. Haggard and who view him less than sympathetically. That's really surprising. Mad as he is, he's not monstrous (so far) and I have a great deal of sympathy for him.

Edit: Edward is a sloppy diagnostician for sure so that might detract some points from him.

Last edited by Beth; 31st Jul 2007 at 20:16.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 20:57   #26
Kimberley
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

I just turned the last page, so I was talking before I finished. Funny you should come here to scold though, Ang, I only just realised it was still July. (unfortunately, it's quite common for me not to know what day it is. I can't concentrate on everything!)

You are such a pedant!!

A couple of quick notes on finishing it, though, this is a brilliant, brilliant book. I might need to go back and re-evaluate the McGrath I abandoned earlier this year.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 21:43   #27
John Self
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Re whether he is describing the sexual details to James, my understanding is that he is describing it all to James, SPOILER as he cradles him in his arms, dying, "by the light of a burning Spitfire." Implausible I know, as it's 180 pages long, but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief. He's certainly thinking it all while he's there, as there are references to their final predicament as early as the first paragraph.

Tears in sex? Well, who knows! Bree's husband in Desperate Housewives used to cry when he came... (Maybe that's why I find it comical)

Kimberley, I see on page p150 (all my page refs are to the UK Penguin paperback) that we do find out what Goethe he was 'reflecting on' - Faust. "eternal womanhood leads us above." Oddly I didn't remember that from my previous readings. I shall now.

Beth, I too find Haggard mostly sympathetic. In the days before Palimpsest - I used to press this book on everyone I knew. The few who read it, all women I think, didn't like him at all. As for his diagnostics, I presume we're talking about Jean Fig? Am I right in thinking that the reason he goes into so much detail about her symptoms and what he thinks of as her 'plight' is to give us greater understanding of what Fanny went through in her illness and death (as she too died of kidney disease)? As well as to emphasise to the reader, aside from Haggard, that Ratcliffe could very well have missed the signs of nephritis in Fanny just as Haggard did in Jean Fig; so he ain't necessarily such a bad husband.

Ang, yes, we are a bad bad bunch. I blame Wavid for not being here to keep an eye on maverick admins...

Agreed, Kimberley, that Dr Haggard's Disease is a brilliant, brilliant book. Now and always, it's from me all the way.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 21:52   #28
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Had a little google just now and was interested to see that the coloured aspirins and Mist Explo liquid that Haggard prescribed as placebos really existed, although the following suggests they were not widely used:

Quote:
Patients paying the lowest fees or receiving care through an insurance scheme received a much more basic consultation. In the next reading, Anne Digby examines state-funded care provided through the National Health Insurance Act of 1911.

Discussion

Digby makes clear that ‘panel’ patients received a lower-quality service in virtually every aspect of care than did private patients – including the surgery accommodation, the range of medicines prescribed, the length of consultation and the quality of the dressings. However, patients seemed happy with the service – relatively few of them changed their doctor or complained about the care they received. Digby suggests, however, that this may have been because they had low expectations of a service that they saw as similar to that provided by earlier sick clubs. Despite the long hours and heavy workload, doctors also seemed reasonably happy working under the National Health Insurance scheme, which provided them with a guaranteed income. However, she also notes instances of doctors not accepting that panel patients should receive poor care: for example, some were accused of ‘over-prescribing’ (i.e. not conforming to the expected standard of prescribing) and others complained about the use of poorer-quality bandages for their panel patients.


Digby's account may give the impression that patients were powerless in the face of a form of rationing of care, imposed by government and the medical profession. In fact, they exerted control over how they used the National Health Insurance system. Some commentators complained that patients abused the system by going to see their doctor for no good reason. Although doctors might appear to be ‘fobbing off’ their patients with stock medicines, in fact practitioners complained that patients expected to leave the surgery with a bottle of medicine (most drugs were dispensed in liquid rather than tablet form in this period). They were therefore forced to act in response to patient demand. Some of these frequently prescribed medicines had little pretensions to do any good. Elsewhere in her book, Digby reports that one doctor handed out coloured aspirins. In another practice, one of the stock medicines ‘was labelled “Mist. ADT” or “Mist. Any Damn Thing” [‘Mist.’ is an abbreviation of the Latin word for ‘mixture’ ] which was given to “somebody you thought there was nothing wrong with, and you could do nothing for”’ (Digby, 1999, p. 198 ). More alarmingly, another practitioner
prescribed a mixture … called Mist. Explo. It was a clear yellow liquid made from a few bright yellow crystals dissolved in water. The crystals were apt to ignite if left to dry in the sunlight, hence the name Mist Explosive. I don't remember the exact chemistry of this wonder drug but it was a derivative of picric acid and quite harmless when well diluted and used as a bitter tonic.
(Porter, 1999, p. 196)



Such medicines seem little different to patent medicines, which doctors so frequently condemned.
The details are so close to Haggard's that they must come from the same source (though the paper cited, published in 1999, came out six years after Dr Haggard's Disease). Perhaps McGrath, who credits his doctor father with medical assistance in the writing, heard of these through tales that passed through the profession.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 22:11   #29
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Oh and here's what one Amazon reviewer made of Dr Haggard's Disease. With readers like this, no wonder it's out of print!

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
The disease - was it boredom?, 21 Jan 2002
Reviewer: A reader

Having read rave reviews about McGrath, I was eager to read this book. However, I was disappointed by this poor imitation of "The End of the Affair" - same wartime setting, same love triangle, same death, same first-person viewpoint. Whereas Greene's masterwork is a cruelly accurate portrayal of love and jealousy, with a mystery at the centre of it all, McGrath gives us over a hundred pages of the eponymous hero's self-pity with an unconvincing supernatural ending tagged on to the end. To cap it all, the blurb on the back of the book partly gives the ending away.

Was this review helpful to you?
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Old 1st Aug 2007, 1:33   #30
Beth
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

That amazon reviewer is a pinhead. What sort of ding dong could read this and not be enchanted? Anyway, yes, the poor diagnostics were chiefly those he rendered to Jean Fig. He wasn't thinking clearly and, imho, missed all the signs of raging infection. He was focusing on the psychosocials with all of that questioning about her marriage. But even if he'd hit it accurately, penicillin was not yet available and a serious infection meant deep doo doo. Still, I think there's a hint of negligence in his care of Mrs. Fig and the devil in me wonders if Ratcliff didn't let his wife go through attrition and by not pursuing treatment. Some 'there was nothing that could be done' thinking might allow for all sorts of nonfeasance.

Aha, yes I see now what you mean by telling the story to James. I didn't pick up on that. A long time to carry that device but it works and flows naturally. Unlike tears during sex, apparently! That gets to the crux of why I like Dr. Haggard. He's a man capable of passion and what's not to like about that? He's a tragic, gothic character who suffers a romanticized delusion that his love is still with him once she's gone. And who can say they haven't been haunted by the essence of a loved one who is no longer there?

Last edited by Beth; 1st Aug 2007 at 3:01.
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